Is that a moral or a value?

“Which did you compromise, your morals or your values?”

 “Good question”, my client said, “what’s the  difference, now that you ask?”

Have you ever sat down to write out what you value in life? If you’ve ever worked with a coach you will have done this but if you haven’t, it’s an interesting question.


Before we can define our values we first must know the difference between these and our morals, because there is a difference.

Morals are a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs’ concerning what is and is not acceptable to them to do.  ie: stealing is not acceptable, murder is not acceptable, lying, etc may be strong morals for you.  These can often be hard and fast rules for people and are usually deeply ingrained in us, something our parents teach us from an early age.

Values are a person’s principles or standards of behavior, one’s judgement of what’s important in life, not what’s right or wrong. Values however can and do often change, depending on what stage we are at in our lives and our experiences. 

Example: in your 20’s you may value financial security by earning a high salary, in your 40’s you may change that value for one of family or friendship or you may hold both of these values but switch the priority of them in your life. What is to be admired in a person is not the value itself but the person’s ability to live the value fully in their lives.

In the book Co-Active Coaching by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl and Laura Whitworth they state that, “when we honor our values and the choices we make in our lives, we feel an internal “rightness”. It’s as if each value produces it’s on special tone. When we live our values, the various tones create a unique harmony.”  Some may call this living a balanced life.

How many times in a day do you hear someone complain about something? How often do you complain about something? Coaching teaches us that a complaint is actually a stomped on value. Listen more closely to someone the next time they complain, see if you can figure out what value of theirs is not being honored. 

“This traffic is driving me crazy!! Why can’t people just get out of my way?”  This person may value being on time or promptness and become very frustrated when they realize that something is affecting them honoring that value.

By being more aware of our own morals and values I believe that we can in turn make deeper connections and improve our communications, because in understanding ourselves better we can help others to understand us better as well.

Want to have a deeper discussion on morals and values or do some digging into your own values? Try a sample coaching session and learn more about yourself and how you interact with the world. 


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